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What rights do I have if my car is recalled?

Whenever you climb into your personal vehicle, or any other vehicle for that matter, you have a right to expect that it's equipped with all the safety bells and whistles mandated by law. Seat belts are a must on most vehicles these days, even those that predate the 1960s. In the 1990s, air bags became standard equipment in all cars and light trucks.

Clearly a lot has changed over the past few decades. But with each new mandate has come new technology and with each new device things have become more complicated. Each device may have multiple components. Each may have its own manufacturer. And in the event a product goes bad and causes a car accident, it can be exceptionally complicated for victims in Illinois to sort out who should be held accountable for damages.

Right now there are tens of millions of vehicles subject to recalls due to faulty air bags. Most readers are likely familiar with the fact that 28 million cars and trucks made by 14 carmakers have been recalled due to fears that inflators could trigger with force enough to send deadly metal shards into the passenger compartments.

Most recently, German air bag maker Continental AG revealed that it is recalling 5 million units used in Volvos, Volkswagens, Mazdas, Mercedes-Benzes, Hondas and Fiat Chrysler vehicles. The concern is that electrical circuits could be corroded to a point where the bags won't deploy in an accident. So much for safety.

If you have one of the vehicles subject to any of these recalls you need to know that you have very specific rights under the law. For one thing, you have the right to have the defective product fixed without cost to you and it must be done within a reasonable timeframe.

The nature of the fix, whether it is a repair, a replacement or refund is up to the manufacturer. The time that is considered "reasonable" may be pretty long if the recall is massive, like the one involving Takata.

And if the defective product doesn't get fixed before you have an accident and it results in you being injured, you may be able to seek compensation for the physical and financial damages you suffer. Check with an attorney to be sure.

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